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Monday, August 24, 2015


Montana is an amazing place, and as impressive as the big sky is in the day, it’s even more magical at night. I recently made a huge road trip to Alaska, and despite seeing so many beautiful places in Alaska, Yukon Territories and British Columbia, Montana was still impressive when we returned home. After watching the sun go down outside of Glacier National Park, we stopped near Belt Montana to view the Milky Way and make a few pictures. We really wanted to make some star photos on our trip but it became more and more difficult the further North we went, because the sun doesn’t really go down very far in the summer and there is too much light in the sky to see the stars. But Montana saved the day on our last night of the road trip and gave us a spectacular view of the Milky Way practically from the highway. Wow, it’s awesome to call Montana home!

Tips for photographers: Photographing the night sky is fun and it’s something every photographer should go out and do sometime. There is a lot written about astrophotography and you can get the impression that it’s difficult, or requires special gear and techniques. I found it pretty easy, even using pretty bad glass for night photography. I made this photo with a Canon 17-40 f/4 L lens and Sony A7ii camera body. A faster lens, f/2.8 or wider, would be ideal for night photography, but I was able to make do with f/4 because the sky was especially bright in Montana. The best tip I can give is to use a really heavy duty tripod that won’t blow around in the wind during 5-15 second exposures and is easy to operate in the dark. It helps a lot if your tripod is really tall too, so you can see what you’re doing without bending over all night. More than anything, just go out and try it with whatever gear you have, it’s a lot of fun!

I am Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger and I love to travel for weddings. I go anywhere and do anything for our clients. There is no wedding too big or too small, and no wedding destination that is too remote or extreme for us. My studio is located in downtown Billings Montana and it would be my honor to photograph your Montana wedding or destination wedding anywhere in the world. Visit www.paulbellinger.com for dramatic, fine art wedding photography as epic as your love story.

Tuesday, August 18, 2015


Alysse and Daniel have raised the bar on engagement sessions! They are just so badass as people that I guess they couldn’t help but have an amazing shoot at their Bozeman home surrounded by mountains and farm animals, and then topped that by heading into the Bridger mountains and a beautiful alpine lake. Thank you Alysse and Daniel for hanging with me and showing me your special spots! I can’t wait for your Bozeman wedding! Stay tuned for more from this epic shoot soon.

Awesome people in awesome locations! That should probably be our motto at Paul Bellinger Photography because our couples love going to badass locations and we will go anywhere and do anything with them to make the best wedding and engagement pictures possible. We are located in Billings Montana and offer worldwide travel for engagement sessions, destination weddings, and honeymoon sessions. www.paulbellinger.com

Friday, August 14, 2015


Happy birthday to my little cousin Christopher! We just got back from an epic road trip from Billings MT to Alaska. I jokingly refer to him as my little cousin because he’s younger and used to be smaller than me, but he’s a beast and has been about 5 inches taller than me since college. He was a big 50 Cent fan in high school and had the license plate C-UNIT in reference to 50’s G-UNIT. My dad has called him C-Unit ever since, so it’s kind of a nickname now! Ha! Chris did almost all of the driving on our huge road trip to Alaska and he really assisted me a lot in making some awesome landscape and nature photos. He caught me taking trying to make portraits of him every now and then, and he went along with it. We took my Nissan Frontier and slept in the back each night at an amazing location like this spot on Thompson Pass just North of Valdez Alaska. It required some pretty sweet driving to reach this spot and Chris did it without getting a flat tire. Thanks for everything Chris, that was a once in a lifetime trip and we totally dominated it!

Tips for photographers: Throughout the trip we were joking that our trip should be sponsored by Nissan because we were putting this truck through long grueling stretches of miles, really rough road conditions, and into some of the most beautiful settings you can imagine. The truck was our home, we slept in the bed of the truck under the topper each night and thanks to the extended bed on the truck it was perfectly comfortable and made us feel safer about being in remote locations with bears. But if we really had a Nissan sponsorship and support, we could have put the truck in much more precarious positions and even more epic photos. But since I rely on the truck for my photography business, I couldn’t risk it most of the time. In this photo I would have liked to have the truck up a little further but there were really jagged rocks everywhere I didn’t want to risk a flat tire, which would have been difficult to change on the rocks. It was an awesome place to sleep for the night though, and the truck handled everything we threw at it on this trip. More photos and tips about shooting in Alaska soon.

My portrait studio is based in Billings Montana but I am available to travel anywhere in the world to make amazing portraits at beautiful locations or in a studio. My team and I will go anywhere and do anything to make the best portraits. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Thursday, July 30, 2015


Meet Shylo, one of the most prolific graffiti artists in Billings’ new graffiti alley behind Good Earth Market and Pug Mahon’s. Shylo is unique in the world of graffiti for being a Christian graffiti artist who regularly paints religious themed artwork such as the “Snakebird” piece featured here and a number of murals for churches across the country. We’re lucky that Shylo has recently decided to move to the Billings area and will soon be blessing the region with more amazing graffiti. Stay tuned for more photos featuring this artist’s work soon.

I love making portraits of artists! It’s an honor when another artist trusts me to make a portrait for them, and even more so when I can feature their work or workspace in an environmental portrait. Contact us at Paul Bellinger Photography for your portrait! www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

Tips for photographers: This photo was made outside on a cloudy day and is lit with one light, a large silver bounce umbrella high to the camera left. I like working with bounce umbrellas because unlike a shoot through umbrella, which spills light everywhere, a bounce umbrella is easy to control the direction of light. The key to the light placement in this photo is the angle and direction to create a Rembrandt pattern on Shylo’s face and the ratio of light on Shylo versus the mural in the background. The light is about 5 feet away from Shylo, which is further than I would normally place a light for portraiture (depending on what I’m going for, but I like it close and soft with dramatic falloff in general). I chose to put the light further away than I normally prefer because if it were too close the falloff would be too quick and there wouldn’t be enough light on the background (of course I could drag the shutter to let some ambient light up the background, but that’s not the route I took because I was shooting handheld and wanted the mural to be in sharp focus). I'll be posting a BTS photo of the setup on instagram soon so be sure to follow @PJBellinger.

Wednesday, July 22, 2015


Kalli and Bridger’s big day went off like a fairytale complete with prince charming, a princess and a castle. It was a big wedding at St. Thomas and featured some of the best wedding vendors in the state of Montana under the helm of coordinator Patricia Clark. But like most fairytales, at the center of this big day was something incredibly simple: a true and passionate love. I have had the honor of being able to spend a couple of weeks with Kalli and Bridger, and I find their young love and positive outlook on life to be so refreshing and so simple. They’re in love and nothing is going to stop them! Thank you Kalli, Bridger and all of their family and friends for sharing your precious time with me!

Thank you to all of the vendors that made this amazing wedding into the fairytale that it was.

Designer/Coordinator – Patricia Clark (visit Pat’s website here for links to all vendors)
Floral – Mac’s Floral
Decorator – Moments in Time
Hair and Makeup – Sammie Semmler
Lighting – DiA Events
Wedding cake – Jayne’s Signature Sweets
Rentals – Party Time Plus
Venue – St. Thomas Catholic Church and Lonewolf Energy
Ceremony music – Stillwater Symphony
Reception band – Bucky Beaver Band
Carriage/Limo/Trolley – Total Transportation

Thank you also to my team of incredible photographers Jenna Masters, Trevan Hiersche for your hard work. For Montana wedding photographer Paul Bellinger please visit www.paulbellinger.com.

Wednesday, July 15, 2015


Hyalite Canyon and all of its peaks, lakes, streams and waterfalls, are special for Carrie and Jake. It was their retreat while attending MSU Bozeman where they met and fell in love. Now it’s only 10 days until their wedding in Billings Montana and after that we’ll be meeting up for a shoot in London on their honeymoon. Thank you for sharing your special places and moments with us Carrie and Jake!

It’s an honor to share in people’s special places and moments and it’s something we have always been passionate about at Paul Bellinger Photography. That’s why we’re willing to go anywhere and do anything to make the images that are special for our clients, including worldwide travel. There is no wedding too large, too small, too remote, or too uncommon for us. From the beaches to the mountains, we approach every shoot with the same level of determination to make the best images possible. Being located in Billings Montana gives us special access to the mountains, and mountain weddings are a specialty for us, but we also have an airport, passports and a love for world travel. So where will your love story lead us? www.paulbellinger.com

Tuesday, June 30, 2015


Introducing the badass headshot. This is a headshot that is reserved for bosses. It conveys only one clear and simple message: I am a badass.  It doesn’t matter what industry you’re in, everybody wants to hire a badass. Available in Billings Montana only at Paul Bellinger Photography. www.portraits.paulbellinger.com

This portrait has been a labor of love and it turned out badass if I may say so myself. Zak and I put about two months into learning this lighting technique and we fine-tuned it in the studio over six sessions. Thanks to Kenneth Jarrecke for challenging us to master this light. Thanks to all of the people that posed during test sessions, we will drop those portraits here on the blog as they are ready. Thanks to Zak for putting in hours and expertise on this. We’re going to keep pushing and raising the bar for portraits and headshots in Billings Montana.

Tips for photographers:

This photo was inspired by the portraiture of Marco Grob, after Kenneth Jarrecke showed me some of Grob’s work on twitter and sort of challenged me to light like Grob. Specifically this photo is inspired by a portrait that Grob made of Robert Downey Jr., because a lot of people say Zak looks like him. After a lot of hours studying Grob’s work, what we learned was more than just a lighting setup, it is a framework for working with the light that can be versatile. The idea is to add shadows to the highlight side of a Rembrandt, closed loop lighting pattern. Using a black piece of foam core as a flag, we put a shadow on the highlight side of the face, camera right in this case. You can also add a flag above to put a shadow across the forehead as well, something I wish we had done. It sounds very simple, one light, one or two flags to add shadows, and you can add kicker lights on the back side as we’ve done here too. But the trickiness comes in with the main light and the flag, and how close and at what angle to use the flag to add shadow right where you want it. The further the flag is from the light, the harder the shadow will be. You can also change the shadows by moving the main closer or farther from the subject. We prefer bringing the main light very close so that there is a dramatic falloff on the shadow side the highlights are very soft from the close light. For this photo we used a large, 7x1 foot strip box about two feet from Zak’s face. We used a pair of beauty dishes behind and on each side of the subject at 45 degree angles to create the edge lighting (also called rim lighting or backlighting). But the portrait looks cool without those extra lights and you can use reflectors instead of beauty dishes for a more subtle edge (click here to see a portrait without kicker lights, also inspired by Grob). Once you understand the basic framework it’s easy to experiment from there and adjust for the specific subject in front of you.

Monday, June 29, 2015


This is one of my favorite portraits of my wife and myself! I am such a lucky man, Nini is definitely my better half. I am also lucky to have so many great photos of my wife and I, and many of them are printed so that we will always have them. This is one that we are definitely going to print. It was taken at the Comedy BeCause event put on by the Center for Children and Families. I set up a portrait studio on location at the VIP party before the comedy show, and made portraits of the distinguished guests. Trevan Hiersche assisted me for the day and made one for us after the event was over. Thanks for all of your help, and mostly, for this photo Trevan!

This was a really cool event and making portraits on location was a fun way to give back to the VIP guests who helped make the show possible. I don’t think most people were used to seeing an actual portrait studio on location and the portraits turned out amazing. I’ve been doing this kind of VIP portrait studio on location a few times recently and it has really been a big hit with guests.

Tips for photographers:
This photo is lit with two large softboxes stacked on top of each other to the camera left and in front of the beautiful couple about 5 or 6 feet. There is a large 4x8 foot reflector camera right, also about 5 or 6 feet in front of the lovely couple that is isn’t really doing much in this photo. It is giving a very small amount of fill light on the shadow side of the faces. I’ve used this lighting technique before, click here for more information. On a non-lighting note, it was really crazy shooting a bunch of portraits on location at an on going event. This was not my first time doing this kind of studio on location, but it was the most busy and tightly packed event that I’ve done it at. Time and space were very limited. I had to keep it small and simple and having Trevan assisting me helped a lot too. I highly recommend trying this at some smaller events before attempting it at a big event. We pulled it off because we had a good team with my wife Nini helping out too, but it was not easy.

Billings Montana portrait photographer Paul Bellinger specializes in modern, stylish portraits classic tradition of the great masters of portrait photography. Please visit www.portraits.paulbellinger.com to schedule your sitting.

Wednesday, June 24, 2015


Laddoo is one of my favorite people in India. He is a barber that has been cutting my wife’s family’s hair for three generations now. I met him during my first trip to India and have seen him on every visit since. He always comes over to the house and gives me a fresh cut, shave and massage. It is traditional for barbers in India give really great head and shoulder massages after cutting your hair. Laddoo even cracks my neck as part of the massage, which is kind of scary, but it has always made my sore neck feel better. On our latest trip to India I asked Laddoo to pose for a portrait since he is a very important person to me in my wife’s hometown of Hazaribagh. I also made a surprise visit to see his barber shop and made a portrait of him and his brothers in their space. Of course Laddoo being so generous, he had to give me another trim and massage (I think there is some footage on instagram if you follow @pjbellinger). Before leaving Hazaribagh I had several prints made of all the different people I made portraits of, and I delivered them to each one in person. There is something special about giving and receiving prints. Prints create a connection that is missing when you only deliver electronic files. In this case it was a nice way to say thank you and farewell until next time.

Tips for photographers:
These are the photos that make all of the hard work worth it. They are special photos that can happen in the blink of an eye if you are on your game. For the portrait of Laddoo by himself, he posed for less than two minutes before he was on his way. I scoped out the white wall on previous days and knew it would be lit up nicely in the afternoon sunlight. I put Laddoo in direct sunlight coming from camera left. Since half of his face is in shadows, we call this split lighting, which I really like because of the contrast. The whole front of the house and driveway were lit up with sunlight in front of Laddoo to create nice catchlights in his eyes. The portrait of Laddoo and his brothers was created during a bright sunny day with a single speedlight held by my little sister in the back of the shop to create rim light, or backlight on the subjects. Because the speedlight is all the way in the back of the room it has the effect of lighting the whole room. It’s a lighting technique that is somewhat overused but is a fast and convenient way to add a bit of drama to an otherwise natural light environmental portrait.

I am portrait photographer Paul Bellinger, and I have an unmatched passion for the art of portraiture. I have put many years into the study of everything about portraiture, from the timeless classics by the great masters of generations past, to the leading portrait artists of today. My hard work and dedication has paid off and my portraits are increasingly being sought after for magazine covers and editorial features, and I have on set experience with large-scale fashion, celebrity and sports photo shoots. I specialize in dramatic studio portraits of individuals from headshots and professional business portraits, to fashion and glamour.

Saturday, June 6, 2015


Kalli and Bridger’s big day is only one week away and I’m excited to start celebrating with them this week as the bridal party arrives for bachelor and bachelorette parties, a bridal shower, rehearsal dinner, the wedding, the day after brunch, and finally a honeymoon session at Disney World! It’s going to be a busy week of celebration and I can’t wait to photograph all of it!

Before things get too hectic I want to share a few photos from our cliff side adventure in Maui Hawaii. Kalli and Bridger are Montanans, so they had no problem getting up before sunrise, driving 30 minutes North to the rocky coast and hiking to this location that I had pre-scouted a few days before. The rocky shore is really beautiful with waves crashing everywhere and crazy cliffs. This place is known as “the blowhole,” named after a hole in the rocks that shoots water into the sky when waves crash below. But we were there to see the beautiful seascape at sunrise and waves crashing behind a heart shaped hole in the rock. Mother nature rewarded our hard work and we have these amazing photos to remember the even more amazing experience we had. We got lost hiking back to the Jeep but that’s another story!  See more of our Maui adventures by clicking here.

I specialize in making heirloom quality wedding artwork that is as unique as your love story. I am based in Billings Montana, but I am available for romantic adventures worldwide, including engagement sessions, weddings, and honeymoon sessions. From the beaches to the mountains, it would be my honor to photograph your wedding in any destination. www.paulbellinger.com